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Provenance

The sitter [1791-1872]; by descent to her granddaughter, Charlotte Elizabeth Hoadley [1858-1946], Chicago.[1] (C.W. Lyon, New York); sold 26 January 1917 to Thomas B. Clarke [1848-1931], New York;[2] (sale, American Art Association, New York, 7 January 1919, no. 24); E. T. Heckscher.[3] Again Thomas B. Clarke by December 1921;[4] his estate; sold as part of the Clarke collection on 29 January 1936, through (M. Knoedler & Co., New York), to The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift 1947 to NGA.

Exhibition History
1921
Exhibition of Paintings by Early American Portrait Painters, The Union League Club, New York, December 1921, no. 12.
1928
A Loan Exhibition of Paintings by Early American Portrait Painters, The Century Association, New York, 1928, no. 16.
1928
Portraits by Early American Artists of the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, Collected by Thomas B. Clarke, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1928-1931, unnumbered and unpaginated catalogue.
1971
Loan for display with permanent collection, Berkshire Athenaeum Public Library, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, 1971-1983.
Bibliography
1928
Cary, Elisabeth L. "Americans of the Past." The New York Times, 25 May 1928.
1928
Portraits by Early American Artists of the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, Collected by Thomas B. Clarke. Exh. cat. Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1928, unnumbered.
1955
Bolton, Theodore and Irwin F. Cortelyou. Ezra Ames of Albany: Portrait Painter, Craftsman, Royal Arch Mason, Banker, 1768-1836. New York, 1955: 255, no. 211.
1970
American Paintings and Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1970: 10, repro.
1972
Gilman, William H. Melville's Early Life and Redburn. New York, 1972: 10-11.
1980
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 20, repro.
1992
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 21 repro.
1996
Kelly, Franklin, with Nicolai Cikovsky, Jr., Deborah Chotner, and John Davis. American Paintings of the Nineteenth Century, Part I. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1996: 7-9, color repro.
Technical Summary

The panel, 0.9-1.1 cm thick and most likely of poplar, has a vertical grain and was tangentially cut. The reverse of the panel is stained with dark red paint. The off-white ground was scored to resemble a fine twill fabric, with subsequent paint applied in multiple layers, both wet-over-dry and wet-into-wet. Paint application is thin, with the exception of the raised areas of jewelry and lace. The varnish has yellowed considerably.